Session 2 Printmaking

LESSON TITLE: Reduction Printmaking – Multi Plate Prints
TEACHER NAME: Jennifer November
GRADE LEVEL: 7th & 8th
CLASS TIME: 1hr 40 Minutes, 1 Days/week  6# Sessions
SUBJECTS COVERED – Graphic Design, Math, Art History


  • Students will demonstrate their understanding of reduction by using the subtractive process on a linoleum plate.
  • Students will learn to cave a linoleum block, and use safety guidelines.
  • Students will learn printmaking vocabulary and demonstrate understanding by completing a vocabulary assessment.
  • Students will write a short critique of their project, the process and what they learned from it.


1. Various colored paper (for printing)
2. Newsprint (for test printing, and sketching)
3. Linoleum Slab (1 per student about 5×7 or 4×6)
4. Brayer
5. Cutting tools (gouge)
6. Various color inks (for various layers)
7. Sharpies
8. Phone books (for rolling ink evenly)
9. Spoon (for pressing prints, printing press preferred)
10. Glue
11. Mounting Paper
12. Wax paper


Print – A shape or mask made from a printing block or another object.

Brayer – a small hand held roller used to spread printing ink evenly on a surface before printing.

Block/Plate- a piece of flat material used to carve in to and print on.

Burnish- to smooth a surface by rubbing it with a tool that has a hard, smooth surface.

Collograph – a print made from a surface that has been built up like a collage.

Edition- the total numbers of impressions or “number of copies” made at one time or of the same block.

Gouge – A chisel with a curved blade in the shape of either a V or a U, for scooping, or cutting holes in the plate/ block.

Ink – medium used for printmaking

Inking Tray – tray to put the ink in so you can roll it out evenly

Mirror Image – the print comes out backwards because you are printing it’s mirror image. Remember this when you are writing letters.

Print – mark (a surface, typically a textile or a garment) with a colored design or pattern.

Pulling the Print – pulling the paper off your block to reveal the printed image.
Proof – practice print

Relief Print – three-d print

Reduction Print – printing in stages each of which many prints a made from a block carve three times and prints after each carving, creating an evolving print.

Rubbing – using a crayon and paper to get a rough impression

Subtractive Process – taking more off every time

Linoleum – a piece of rubber like material that is soft enough to carve into

Linoleum print – a creation of craved linoleum that can create images when ink is put on it.

Collage – when we use several materials and put them together on one ‘canvas’ to create an image.



It is suggested that students work in various stations for cutting, inking and printing. Students should have ample amount of room at their tables. They should all have their own cutting board to cut against and their own gouge to cut with. They may share brayers for each color and should ink in a different area then they will be cutting in, to avoid dirtying the ink in the inking area with linoleum scraps on the tables.


Lesson #1: Vocabulary and Postcard Prints

1. Intro: Students will be introduced to various forms of printmaking. They will look at various blocks of prints created from plastic (or acrylic), metal, wood and linoleum.
2. Students will learn and review vocabulary words. The teacher will go through a short power point lesson having the students write down the vocabulary definitions on the worksheet provided.
3. Students will be given worksheets of tips and warnings on how to safely cut the block, cutting away from their hands and their bodies.
4. Following the this part of the lesson students will all be given a small piece of linoleum or an eraser will work too. They will practice with the smaller piece and create a “Stamp” to grasp the concept of printmaking a little stronger.
5. They will print with one color ink on one color paper, either white or varying colors.

Lesson #2: Reduction Print Sketch and First Print

1. Choose a subject that is easy to stylize, such as people’s faces or objects that are close. Simple is better. Make a sketch of the entire composition and have it fit the size of the block. Do this on newsprint and make many changes as are needed. Use only outline shapes and don’t use any shading. Anything that needs shading is going to be simplified to a shape.
2. Transfer the subject to the block by turning the page drawing side down on the block, and then using the side of a crayon, or even a pencil to rub the drawing right onto the block. Once the transfer is complete remove the paper and go over all of the lines with a thick marker or sharpie. This will ensure your lines are thick enough to show up and give you a stringer idea of what the final product will be.
3. Begin your first stage of cutting. Remove the background of the subject and a small amount of the block for the very first print. This will be the largest amount of surface area that you will print. Students may use more than one color of ink on various pieces of paper, as long as they clean the brayers and blocks after inking use.
4. Students will place the paper on evenly on the block and then use the back of a spoon or their hands to rub the paper evenly on the inked block.
5. Students will pull their prints and allow them to dry before printing again.
6. Students should choose bright colors and print on either neutral paper or bright paper. This will give the students two bright colors right away.

Lesson #3: Second Print and Lesson Assessment

1. At this point students should be very familiar with the printing process. Students will take a short crossword puzzle test, testing their knowledge on the vocabulary words. The definitions will be the “questions” provided, and the answers will be the vocabulary words.
2. Upon completion of the test students may move on to their second print. Student may either continue to cut the block or if the block is ready for the second print the student may go on to printing their second layer of ink onto their prints already created.
3. Students will begin to see the layer process taking effect as the new layer of ink goes on the page and they reveal three colors showing.

Lesson #4: Final Printing and Mounting

1. Students will finish cutting their final layer of the block, which is now simply the outline of the image. Lines should be at least as thick as the remaining sharpie ink on the block, and should outline the image.
2. Students can complete their printing and mount paper onto the final mounting paper.


Lesson #1 Follow Up

My class had 6 female students, middle school age. Students were very egger and excited to learn about the printing process. I began with passing around various blocks of printing blocks, and various prints. Students seemed a bit over whelmed with information on all types of printing, but listened intently.

We moved to a presentation on vocabulary words. I had given the students a worksheet with the vocabulary words and they were to follow the presentation along and write down the definitions to the words. I told the students to make sure they followed along because there would be a test on these words in the coming weeks. This was to ensure they wrote everything down.

After the list was finished they were all given manila folders with three worksheets in them. One worksheet had warnings and tips, the second worksheet was on the reduction print and process, and the third on the lesson itself.

We reviewed a short warnings lesson on how to safely cut the block. Students were told to cut away from their hands and bodies.

We then reviewed the lesson and the reduction print worksheet.

They were then shown a presentation board of how to create a reduction print. I went over the methods of cutting the block and then gave them all small pieces of the block to begin cutting with. I explained to them that they will be creating a small stamp, and anything that was cut away will be the “negative” space and anything left behind will be the printing, “positive” space.

I heard one of the students say “make a big stamp, that makes so much more sense now”. It was great to hear their enthusiasm, and I allowed them to work independently for a little. Some of the students seemed to understand but all still needed direct instruction when cutting the block to see that they should cut away the background, thus creating the stamp. I reminded them all to cut away the negative space and leave behind the positive impressions. All of the students were able to print their blocks. They printed on the colored cards and we ended with enough time to clean up and put everything away.


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